Waxman’s draft of supercommittee recommendations includes spectrum auctions

{mosads} Waxman recommends giving the Federal Communications Commission the authority to incentivize television broadcasters to give up their spectrum, or airwaves. The government would then auction off the spectrum to the highest bidder, likely a wireless broadband company. 

Even after splitting some of the proceeds with to the broadcasters, the spectrum auctions are expected to raise billions of dollars to help the government pay down its deficit. Broadcasters argue any auction plan should include strong protections to ensure that no television station is forced off the air against its will.

Waxman also recommends that the supercommittee require the president to “identify any federal spectrum that can be utilized more efficiently and reallocated for auction or shared use.”

Much of the federal government’s spectrum is used by the military for its high-end communication devices.

In a letter to the president last week, four members of the supercommittee also recommended that the government auction off some of its spectrum for commercial uses.

Under Waxman’s plan, the government would allocate the D Block of spectrum for the creation of a nationwide public safety broadband network. He would use proceeds from the spectrum auctions to pay for the network.

The network is a top priority for first responders because it would allow them to communicate using video and data during emergencies. It would also help officials from different agencies communicate with each other.

Waxman estimated that his spectrum proposals would generate net savings of $15 billion for the federal government.

“If structured appropriately, these policies and auctions will deliver considerable economic and public safety benefits for our country,” he wrote.

House and Senate standing committees have until Friday to make their recommendations to the supercommittee. The supercommittee is seeking at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions.

It is unclear whether the other Democrats on the committee support Waxman’s draft proposal.  The letter notes that the recommendations were shared with the other Democrats and “reflect valuable input from the members.”


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